“He who rejects change is the architect of decay”
- Harold Wilson
As a business organisation, you constantly encounter change whether you want to or not. Particularly in an era where technology improves daily. Remaining competitive requires you to realign systems rapidly. Staying ahead of everyone else requires you to act first and take advantage of the competitive edge. This need for rapid response places an increasing importance on the area of procurement. In fact, procurement is transforming and becoming a more important factor in strategic planning.
As a procurement manager, you are in charge of getting the things your business needs. Raw materials, operating supplies, equipment, and things like software all fall within your field of responsibility. As the procurement manager, you are the company’s primary contact with all its suppliers. You make decisions on quality, quantity, and price. You are the person drawing up contracts and making sure everyone involved in the process is organised and on the same page. As the job of procurement continues to evolve you as the procurement manager will increasingly take on the role of change agent. What exactly does that mean for you and are you ready?
What becoming an agent for change means to you, the procurement manager, is getting out in front. Don’t wait until changing circumstances arise before taking action. Take action first by developing a strategy that transforms the way resources are acquired, and harnessed throughout the company. All the traditional goals apply; you seek cost savings, operational efficiencies, and quality products from loyal and committed suppliers. The problem is you’ve done all that. You’ve accomplished those goals by grabbing the low hanging fruit. Now it's time for you and your team to brainstorm ideas and find ways to get at the fruit no one else can reach, or even seen. Before you set your goals, make your plan, communicate that plan to upper management, and then execute, you need to understand the process of managing change.
Change management involves taking an organisation, or some portion of an organisation from point A (the status quo) to point B (the desired business outcome or goal). You must approach this project comprehensively with attention to each component that is affected by the change. You have to consider the organization’s people, culture, processes, infrastructure, and technology. You must communicate at all phases of the project, beginning with presenting the proposed changes to upper management for approval. After approval, but before implementation, communicate with each person, group, department, vendor, and whoever else you think will be involved. Stay positive but firm with your message. Change is going to happen, this is how it's going to happen, and this is your role. It is very important that each or group of individuals clearly understands their role. Remember as you inform all concerned, prepare ahead of time to answer their most likely objections. Object they will. People always resist change even if that change is good for them. Effective leaders always project confidence. Let people see you engaging throughout the process and give it time.
The change will not happen immediately, and mistakes come with the territory. You must adjust. If something doesn’t seem to work then analyze what went wrong, pivot, and try again. Do not hesitate to fine tune areas that seem shaky. Always remember where you started and where you want to go. Execute, observe, adjust, and keep communication open with all levels of the organisation, and success will happen. You will become the change agent that made it all happen.